The Spanish Catastre

Development and functions of the land register in Germany and Spain

Although the German Catastro and the Spanish Catastro have the same name, they have developed differently and have different functions. In Germany, the Cadastral Office performs sovereign and municipal functions related to the proof of ownership of land. The Cadastral Office provides geo-data, maps and plans according to the requirements of administration, economy and law and takes over the surveying support of planning and construction measures for municipal and private organisations and persons. Furthermore, the offices of the expert committee for land values are located at the Surveying and Cadastral Office.

The Spanish Civil Registry is a local authority whose task is to set taxes (in particular the annual property tax IBI) that relate to a property. The plans available there are usually not based on their own property, but on information from the owners (which are usually very “unreliable”, because the less development is indicated, the lower the taxes) or on photographs taken from the air (in the interest of higher tax revenues estimated in the past, the cadastre the development is usually somewhat more generous). Thus, it often happens that the size information in the cadastre often differs from the information in the land register or the actual sizes. In the last 20 years, especially through Law 13/2015, attempts have been made to achieve an alignment of the values in the land register and the cadastre through mutual information obligations, because since 01.11.2015 the area dimensions between the land register and the cadastre must be identical.

Priority of the land register

If the information in the cadastre differs from that in the land register, the information in the land register takes precedence, because due to various legal regulations (Art. 1, Art. 38 of the Spanish Mortgage Act) the land register (property register) has a publicity effect and the presumption that the rights recorded in the land register exist and that the registered beneficiary is also entitled to them. In contrast, the data in the land register do not have a mandatory character due to their history. Unlike the land register, the cadastre does not have a public faith. What to do if the area data in the land register and the cadastre differ? Then the owner must have an architect determine the geo references and then determine whether the information in the land register or cadastre corresponds to reality. A sale of a property should only take place after these ambiguities have been clarified.